After Asian Games 2018 gold, Neeraj Chopra eyes 90m and Worlds medal
Neeraj Chopra could have ended the season on a high after clinching gold at the Jakarta Asian Games but the javelin thrower preferred to travel 11,000 km the next day to rub shoulders with the world’s best in the Diamond League Finals in Zurich just three days later.
However, the 20-year-old missed the podium by a whisker and finished fourth in Switzerland.
In Jakarta, Neeraj created a new national record with a throw of 88.06m but missed the bronze in Zurich to Rio Olympics champion Thomas Rohler of Germany by 0.03m with a throw of 85.73m.
Neeraj will participate in the year’s last tournament – the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava on September 8-9. The top-2 athletes from each continent compete in the event with the Indian representing Asia-Pacific.
“Winning gold at Asian Games was my target and I wanted it desperately. But it (Jakarta) was not my ultimate target. I’m eyeing a good show in 2019 World Championships and for that competing in both the Diamond League Finals and Continental Cup is important,” Neeraj said from Czech Republic, who became the second Indian athlete after Milkha Singh to win gold in both Commonwealth and Asian Games in the same year.
“Though I missed the medal by a very small margin, I’m satisfied with my performance. The best part was that I was able to cross 85m which adds to my consistency, which is very important looking ahead.”
Neeraj became the first Indian to win top honours in javelin throw at Asian Games. This year, the army man has crossed the 85m mark nine times, including eight times in the international arena, bettering his national record twice – at Doha Diamond League (87.43m) and Jakarta (88.06m).
“Every athlete looks for a medal irrespective of competition. In Ostrava, the main target is to maintain consistency,” said Neeraj, who also holds the junior world record (created in 2016 U-20 World Championships in Poland. “As this is the last tournament of the year, I want to wrap up the season on a good note and want to enjoy.”
For a confirmed podium finish at World Championships and Olympics, Neeraj has to touch 90m. “The 90m mark is within my reach. But for this I have to work on my ‘angle of release’. Right now I have developed some snag in the angle; it’s going towards right and little inwards. For a longer throw, the angle has to be perfect and after this event, I will work on the technical aspects,” said Neeraj.
“In the last two years I have made a lot of changes in my training and it is paying dividends. Earlier, I used to participate in 3-4 competitions in one season but now I am doing 10-12.”